Sunday, March 29, 2020

Gardening, quail & chicks

The garden is up and running. We have rhubarb sprouting and have planted potatoes,  peas, spinach, greens and radish. In the basement under lights I've started 2 kinds of alpine strawberries,  perennial flowers for the pollinators, ground cherries, chard, different kales, peppers and several varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  Also peanuts and lufa plants. I'm not sure the garden centers will be open this spring so better safe than sorry. 

Also in the basement are 30 quail eggs in the incubator.  I bought the eggs off of ebay choosing a seller the next state over to ship. I left her great feedback because I've never seen anything packaged so well. They were double boxes, in foam trays and surrounded with packing peanuts. Unfortunately my egg turner decided to break so I'll be turning them by hand for the next 15 days. The quail are a color variety known as tuxedo that are quite pretty. I've never seen them for sale around here so hopefully they can both fill the freezer and bring in a bit of extra money.

Here's what they should look like, in a couple of color ways. 

Here is Kwazi the rooster checking out his babies.  They are all his but the white and grey one on the left and the silkies. I only set blue eggs and he and my Easter Egger hen threw some really colorful babies. Unfortunately they look to be about 75% roos at this point. 

And here is the oldest making friends. Yes, he's in a chicken pen. And refused a bath tonight. Country kids; what can you do.

I've been trying to ramp up food production this spring due to, well, everything going on in the world.  


The geese have been allowed to keep their eggs but so far aren't sitting. We'll see. We aren't hurting for eggs, getting about 8 a day here, so it really doesn't matter not having them. I would however like another goose or two.  They've been enjoying the confines of a fence for a couple of weeks now after they decided to take a stroll down the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. We live on a blind curve and I'm not having someone get killed because of these idiots. So, hello, portable fencing. 

So that's what's new around here on the micro-farm front. I still have more seeds to do but I think we're off to a good start.

Our red ranger hennie died

When I went to let the chickens out this morning my old red ranger mama was dead on the floor of the coop. It was sad but not a suprise.  For a couple of weeks now she hasn't been doing much but sitting in the sunshine and napping. 

Taken yesterday. Here she is with my other old hennie, the bantam from the auction. The Golden Girls of the chickens, they spent a lot of time together.

Over the past week her comb and wattles have been turning purple and it was just a matter of time.  This is the first chicken to die here of old age.  I think she was at least 4 years old, maybe 5 which is pretty good for a meat bird that is usually butchered at about 16 weeks.

Here she is in her younger days with Nigel

She raised babies every spring. Both her own eggs and chicks that she adopted. 

She loved her babies and was an excellent momma.

I buried her out in the chicken yard not too far from Nigel. I'm glad that her last couple of days were warm with some spring sun.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Good mail day, a window open

Today was a very good day at the mailbox.  Instead of bills or junk mail there was a magazine and four postcards from Postcrossing members around the world.  It was a blessing that could not have come at a better time.  I had a blazing headache and was absolutely at the end of my rope trying to entertain myself and two littles on a cold, rainy day when we are all starting to suffer from not interacting with anyone outside of our house.  To see and read these postcards was like a window had been opened.  We discussed them over lunch.  I've decided to share a bit about these cards I get for as long as the whole isolation catastrophe lasts.  

I remember the part of Catholic Mass where we all would take a minute to shake hands with the people around us and wish them a sincere "peace be with you".  This is how these cards feel to me.  Like a small "peace be with you" during a time when we all have a bit too much stress and worry.

I love this card.  It was sent to me by a woman named Inna in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She wrote about her Temple and the work that is being done on it.  She also sent a bonus card for the kids that has an image of black bears.  I'll pull it out some time when we need something to do along with some books and have a day learning about bears.

Felice in Chicago, Illinois sent me a postcard of the Palmolive building and told me about her parents meeting at an area near the building back in 1948.  They are both gone now but every times she rides her bicycle past the building she thinks of them.

Martin in the Netherlands sent me this card and told me about being part of a family of 8 children.  Growing up they raised a lot of animals like rabbits, pigs and chickens that "did not survive the special days" where the pigeons were more lucky not being a typical food.  His sister has coronavirus and he is worried about her.  

Brigitte in Leuven, Belgium sent me this card of Ypres with War museums and monuments.  She enjoys reading Danielle Steele books and lives in a city with many breweries.

These are odd times and I'll take whatever distraction I can get.  Like reading blogs, these cards are a glimpse of how people are living across the world. For anyone who likes to write and receive mail Postcrossing is such a fun little hobby.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Maple syrup, planting, bees!

Hey, let's talk about stuff that isn't depressing!  Some fun things have been going on here.  We finished the maple sap project and ended up with over a gallon and a half of syrup. You can see that in spite of trying several methods of filtering we still ended up with some sugar sand at the bottom of the jars.  I've decided to think of this as "rustic" and proof of its humble origins. Due to the weather (cold and rainy) we set up a canopy behind the house and I boiled the sap down with propane instead of over a wood fire like last year.  This means it doesn't have the smoky flavor that we all loved but it's still delicious. 

The kids and I prepped this row last week by hand and planted a goji Bush and three types of potatoes; purple potatoes,  Yukon Gold and Redskins.  This weekend we are going to till the next row over and plant greens and peas.

Little hands shelled a packet of peanuts for seed last night.  I think we ended up with about 35 to plant.  Tennessee Red was sold out months ago and this is a variety that takes a lot longer to produce so well see. Because the deer and rabbits ate our peanut experiment last year this time we are going to cover the ones in the garden and plant a couple in pots on the porch as insurance. 

We planted these seeds today. The alpine strawberries we've had before and love. We should see berries this summer from them.

A very heartwarming sight.  There are three honeybees in this photo and there was a fourth bee on a flower to the left.  I cannot even remember a time in the past years where we've seen four honeybees at once. It seems there's a hive nearby and the ladies have come through the winter alive and well. 

You can see the full pouches of pollen on their back legs to be taken back to the hive.  It means that not only does the hive have a queen that made it through the winter but that they now have baby bees to feed.  It was a wonderful thing to see today.

I guess I never followed up about the chicks! I'll have to take some pictures.  I think there are 8 of them in the old duck coop.  Looks like half of then will be little roosters. The pretty ones of course.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Still sick, the town is apparently panicked

First off, I want to say that I lied when I called Monday the sick day from hell, although I didn't know it at the time. Tuesday night the baby threw up for 9 hours straight. The only way the poor guy could sleep or find comfort was by laying across my chest.  While all that was going on.  You can imagine the state we were in by morning, along with a pile of towels and the entire living room.  He woke up bright eyed, talking away and demanding a cup of milk.  Then the oldest also got sick, only slightly,  but now today he and my husband are both seriously sick. So today is a tie for Tuesday and we are such a mess that I just sat down and cried at one point. The pediatrician said that they're seeing this bug going around right now and we just have to wait it out. And that it could take about 5 days to get over.

In addition to our illness, shit is getting weird around town with people panicking about coronavirus. Before the day went downhill I went to Aldi and Walmart. Both were very busy. Lots of people were clearly stockpiling staples at both stores. For example the woman behind me in line with 30 lbs of coffee, about a dozen containers of disinfectant wipes and 7 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner.  I mean, if things get so bad that you really do require that much toilet bowl cleaner maybe just give up. These were some of the scenes from Walmart:

This is where the toilet paper should be. There is NO toilet paper left.  

And here is where the handsoap is.  Or was. When my in-laws dropped off supplies this evening they said the thermometer section was also cleared out. 
We are stocking up, within reason I guess, on some simple canned meals that the kids like. If worse comes to worse we can bake bread and walk outside a butcher a chicken.*

* I wrote this before the oldest started getting sick again. Clearly I need to be stocking up on paper towels and laundry detergent if I like it or not. My dad also brought over two bags of paper products for us.  If anyone local is reading this you can still find supplies at Dollar General. 

I did have some fun things to post about but tomorrow is another day. Everyone is resting peacefully thank God.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Sick day from hell and other stuff

Bee, #1 nursemaid

Today was a sick day from hell. I woke up at 3 a.m. running for a trash can and for the next 12 hours that's all I did besides sleeping, sometimes on the bathroom floor. Nothing makes a person think "wow, this bathroom needs cleaned" like having your cheek pressed against the cool but filthy marble tile. With a cat patting your cheek to make sure you're still breathing. That cat was Elyse so believe me it wasn't out of concern for my well-being but rather she was checking to see if food would be dispensed today or did she need to start chewing on my dead body.  I can't remember a sick day that bad, ever, and can only think that I picked up some kind of stomach bug somewhere. Or food poisoning.  Yuck.  What a wasted day. I'm feeling better but for a sore tummy and a headache from being dehydrated. My husband was an absolute blessing taking care of me and the littles.

Today was a beautiful day here and my husband got the kids outside to play for a good bit of it. The crocus are blooming all over the yard in purple, white and yellow.  The birds are laying like crazy.

Unfortunately they have been laying everywhere, like here under the neighbors pine tree.  This is a time when having a preschooler to send in is very helpful.  But I fooled them by putting up a tiny 3 foot fence surrounding the big 5 1/2  foot one. They can't figure out how to hop over it so for now I am smarter than a chicken. 

Should probably figure out a place to sell these things.  We can't eat or give away as many as we are getting.

This postcrossing card came in the mail today from Connecticut.

And this lovely one last week from Finland.

The maple syrup project was supposed to be wrapped up today. God willing I'll be able to finish it tomorrow. There is one more pan to finish and then I need to can the jars to seal them.  We should end up with about 2.5 gallons of maple syrup.  

Here is to a better day tomorrow, the bar hasn't been set all that high.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

More postcrossing cards

Here are two more postcards I mailed today. The one of beagle puppies was sent to a woman in Thailand who collects dog postcards. The movie card went to a man in Ireland who likes black and white cards.

This has been a really fun little thing to do.

These are the two card I've received so far; the top from Martha's Vineyard USA and the bottom one from Germany.  It does take a while to start getting cards. You have to wait until one you've sent has been logged as received before your name is given. Some of the cards take over two weeks to get overseas so it could take more than a month before they start coming back to you. 

The best has been this sweet note from a woman in Japan who I sent a card of a covered bridge near us:

A weekend away

My sister and her husband took the kids for an overnight so my husband and I could go to Cleveland for the evening. The kids were super duper excited to have a sleepover with their cousins (people to play with! the library! Ice cream for breakfast!) and didn't miss us a bit.  As in they were too busy playing to even want to talk with us on the phone when we called later.

We stayed at the Glidden House on University Circle again. The picture above is the view from our room.
It was lovely.

Dinner at L'Albatros right on the same block. We both had the the scallops with this pate starter. It was delicious but we've been there a couple of times now and might try somewhere else for dinner at our next stay. It was a memorable dinner in that there was a couple at the next table over that was just ridiculous and impossible to ignore as they were 3 feet away from us. The husband's behavior included waiving his napkin in the air at the waiter, sending his duck back twice and getting into an argument with the chef about the doneness of his meal. His argument was that he wanted it medium rare and it was undercooked. Twice, allegedly.

Him to the chef : "... and the IRONY is that I was asked how I wanted this prepared!"
The chef: "Sir, if this were cooked any more it would be WELL DONE" (Turns and stalks away)

Then he "helpfully" pointed out that the basalmic reduction masked the taste of the duck. Or it could be, you know, that apparently he liked it cooked like a well-done pork chop.

So of course whenever we were asked about our meals we used words like "perfect"  and "delicious " peppered with lots of "please"s and "thank you"s. They could have served me burnt coffee and I would have raved over it.

But we had a lovely dinner and it was so nice to be out with my husband. After 15 years we still really like each other.

We went to the art museum which was having a show of Tiffany lamps. I wondered if the one in the center had the original base because the shade is a scene of daffodils while the base is a grouping of crabs. It really doesn't make sense.  The lamps were so pretty and there was a big window on display that came from a Cleveland mansion.

We didn't have much time but were able to enjoy ourselves. We considered going to symphony but it didn't work out. Maybe next time.

Breakfast Sunday morning was included. This hotel is the best.

It was really nice to get out of town for a weekend.  I wish we could do it more as we all really enjoy these little trips.